Wealthy matron Mrs. Violet Venable (Hepburn) enlists renowned Chicago brain surgeon Dr. John Cukrowicz (Clift) to lobotomize her niece Catherine (Taylor), who has been institutionalized since the death of Violet's son Sebastian the previous summer. Dr. Cukrowicz's curiosity is piqued, and he sets out to discover what happened to Violet... but the formidable young woman, nursing a dark family secret, seems intent on thwarting Dr. Cukrowicz's inquiry.
A lurid Southern Gothic tale (adapted by Gore Vidal from a one-act Tennessee Williams play), Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “Suddenly, Last Summer” is a trifle campy and overheated, but rich with smart, biting dialogue. Hepburn is haughty and indomitable as an overprotective mother, while Taylor is rivetingly sensual — even in the apoplectic fits of distress we witness in the climactic flashback scene. Mankiewicz handles themes of forbidden desire and depravity with consummate skill, making this a memorable “Summer” indeed.